Govt allows domestic private carriers to do ground handling

Govt allows domestic private carriers to do ground handling

The Centre has now allowed domestic private carriers to indulge in ground-handling at airports, thus providing a level-playing field to all operators in the sector.

The new rules, according to which domestic scheduled airline operators and helicopters can do ground-handling on their own, were notified in the official gazette on December 20.

"All domestic scheduled airline operators and scheduled helicopter operators will be free to carry out self-handling at all airports, including civil enclaves," the notifications said.

In the new civil aviation policy announced in June, 2016, the government had said that it would replace the (then) existing ground-handling policy and regulations with a new framework.

Ground-handling services include aircraft cleaning and servicing, loading and unloading of food and beverages, besides cargo and luggage handling at the airports.

"A foreign airline may undertake self-handling in respect of passenger and baggage handling activities, excluding security functions listed out... at the airport terminals restricted to passenger check-in at pre-security hold area, at all the airports, except civil enclaves or joint user defence airfields," according to the notification.

Besides, a ground-handling agency, with foreign ownership of 50% or more of its paid-up capital, has been barred from carrying out ground-handling at civil enclaves or joint user defence airfields, it said.

The new norms also stipulate that aerodromes clocking 10 million passengers per annum or more are required to have three ground handling agencies, including that of the airport operator/its joint venture (JV)/its wholly-owned subsidiary or a JV or a subsidiary of Air India or any other agency appointed through a bidding process.

However, airports with less than 10 million passengers can hire upto three agencies at the most for carrying out ground handling operations.

For security reasons, all ground handling services can only be provided through regular employees of the agencies, as per the notification.

"The new rules are in line with global practices where airlines are allowed to self-handle. It is a win-win situation for all. The rules will also enable the ground-handling industry to sustain on its own, more so when the government is opening up access to more airports," said an industry insider who did not wish to be identified.

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